RMC sending students home for remainder of term

The MacKenzie Building on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC). Kingstonist file photo.

The Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) will be sending cadets home for the remainder of the term on Thanksgiving weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first-year students had been brought to campus in order to undergo some of the basic training necessary to begin their studies and training at RMC. All cadets arriving in Kingston had to self-isolate for two weeks prior to any in-person training taking place. No cadets tested positive for COVID-19 following that period, and training began as planned — though, not as it would during a regular school year.

At this point, the cadets have completed that in-person training, and completed a number of important rights of passage — including their inaugural march through the arch, marching on the parade square, and receiving their Canadian Forces Badges. Like the upper-year students at RMC (who did not return to campus), the cadets are currently taking their classes online.

It is for that reason that BGen Sébastien Bouchard, Commandant of RMC, has decided it best that the students return home to continue their studies for the remainder of the term.

“As cohesive teams, they conquered the famed RMC Obstacle Course. Together, they received their College Coins from members of the Old Brigade. And like generations of RMC officer cadets before, they stood proudly on the RMC parade square a few weeks ago to be badged officially and forever as members of the Cadet Wing and the RMC family,” Commandant Bouchard said in a letter sent to all students and staff at RMC on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them. Yet, behind it all were the efforts of the college staff — from cooks to cleaners to professors and everyone in between, your dedication and hard work continues to amaze me.”

RMC noted that the students are not engaging in any of the usual events and activities that cadets normally experience, nor are they allowed to leave the point, and therefore are not engaging in the Kingston community, either. Having the students return home means less variables within the Kingston community during the current pandemic, as well as less risk to the RMC and Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston communities.

“After much discussion and consultation, I have made the decision to allow approximately 300 officer cadets currently on campus to remain at home following the upcoming fall study break and for them to continue the academic term remotely, as already being done by the other 800 members of the Cadet Wing. This was a difficult decision, but one I believe is right and responsible,” Bouchard said in the letter.

“The safety of the officer cadets and the staff remains paramount. I’m confident with the steps we’ve all taken to keep everyone safe on campus. However, amid persistent pandemic conditions, I see this as an opportunity to pre-emptively take action to help protect the ongoing health of our officer cadets, keep the force safe, and set the conditions for a successful winter term.”

Currently, RMC plans to have the students return for the winter term in January, however, that decision will be made at a later date, pending the circumstances regarding the pandemic.

“The university is not closing. The university will continue to provide full support for RMC’s 1,100 students studying remotely. In that sense, operations at the college are very much business as usual. This period will also be used by staff to prepare for the planned return of students this January. Planning is already underway for determining when, who and how cadets will return once pandemic conditions permit in the winter term,” Bouchard said, noting he will keep students and staff informed as conditions permit.

“This week there will be long hours of packing bags and coordinating administration and travel arrangements as each individual officer cadet prepares to depart. The movement of each cadet is unique. Some may need to stay longer due to individual requirements while others may have more flexibility. In every case, each officer cadet will be individually informed and updated by their chain of command as the details of their travel arrangements are confirmed,” Bouchard said, noting that parents should stay in contact with their Officer Cadets to receive the most up-to-date information.

“Stay safe! Truth, Duty, Valour,” he concluded.

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